Rethinking Art for Children | Day 8 – 30 Days TYP

30 Days TYP Day 8 Rethinking Art for Children {An Everyday Story}

contains affiliate links

I have a friend who is a beautiful artist. Her brother is an extraordinary artist. Her father is an artist. Her childhood was  full of art; as a family they painted and sketched, sculpted and carved.

I remember being about fifteen and sitting around a table at their house drawing. I remember longingly looking over at their drawings and back again at mine and commenting on how I wished I could draw like them.

Her dad said to me,

we are all artists, we all have our own artistic voice, we just have to listen to it and work at it.

He then showed me a picture in an art book of a tree which looked similar to the one I was drawing.

I wasn’t sure what he meant at the time but I think I do now. Creativity is within us all; individual, creative expression; our own unique view of seeing and representing the world, it’s there, we just have to nurture and most importantly, protect it.

Working with Clay and Natural Materials - An Everyday StoryReggio activities - painting {An Everyday Story}When you draw a tree, what do you do? I am sure like me, many of you draw two lines (maybe wider at the bottom) with a cloud like bubble on top. But is this what a tree looks like?

When you draw a house, what do you do? A square with a triangle on top, a rectangular door in the middle and two square windows? Me too. Why do we do this? How can we live in completely different cities and countries yet draw the same?

I think as children, through our experience with art, we are taught symbols for different objects; houses, trees, flowers, people, the sun… Our individual creative expressions have been replaced by a bank of symbols, none with any real likeness to the original object or any real imaginative or creative response.Drawing - An Everyday Story.jpg

Mixed Media Observational Drawing from An Everyday StoryProtecting and nurturing our children’s individual creativity is more than having a child (and eventually an adult) who can draw or paint. Protecting their creativity is about having a child who has ideas, who sees possibilities, who tries different ways of solving problems, who tinkers, who thinks and who dreams.

“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status”

~ Sir Ken Robinson

So how can we protect our children’s immense creative potential?

We need to offer our children art experiences which encourage discovery and exploration; experiences which:

outdoor art area - An Everyday StoryTask:

  • Take a look at your weekly rhythm and make time for art; as often as possible
  • Encourage daily art by having sketch books and drawing materials in your child’s play area
  • Take an inventory of your art materials

Over the coming weeks we will be looking at different art materials and experiences. This will give you a chance to assess your art materials and add some if needed. And if you’re looking for a truly wonderful art book have a look at Ann Pelo’s The Language of Art: Reggio-Inspired Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings. You will be so inspired.

If you missed a post, here’s the rest of the series. You can also join us on my Facebook page and Instagram using #30daystyp

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s posts on Racheous – Lovable Learning

30 Days TYP Day 8 - Rethinking art for children

Stay up-to-date with each post in the series by subscribing to An Everyday Story and receive each new post in your inbox. Just enter your email address in the box in the side menu.

17 Replies to “Rethinking Art for Children | Day 8 – 30 Days TYP”

  1. Hi Kate,
    There are some basic drawing materials such as color pencils, crayons and markers always on our work table.However my boy (2.8years old) rarely use it. There were one period he used it quite often but not at this moment. How can I encourage him to use the materials more often?

    1. Hi Ashley. What kinds of things does your son like to play with? Does he like building blocks? Or maybe trains? You could try putting some pencils and paper near his toys and seeing if that inspires him.

      At the beginning of this year I started setting aside time everyday to draw with Jack and Sarah. We called it our daily draw. Sometimes they would draw for 5 minutes, other times for over an hour. I think making it something we do everyday has made a real difference to how they approach drawing.

  2. Kate, your posts always make me feel so good. There is such love in everything you write! Fantastic series!

    1. Thank you so much Ann. I am so glad you are enjoying the series.

  3. Thank you for posting this! Very, very useful for me. Art is a process, not result isn’t it? (I found your blog though Rachel and absolutely love it by the way)

    1. Hi Tania, thank you and I am so glad you popped over from Rachel’s place.

  4. I am so glad I am taking part in this series. You are providing such an amazing guidance and thought provoking questions that are helping me to reflect on my role in children’s play. And I can’t wait to hear the experiences of other mums.

    Art is a tricky one in our household and I totally sympathise with Ashley. My 4 year old will rarely pick up a pencil or ask to do painting, despite the fact that we have all arts and crafts materials clearly displayed and easily accessible. He was never into art, he also seems to be a perfectionist and freaks out if things go wrong.

    He is encouraged to draw / write a journal each evening and only recently his drawings started to resemble whatever he is trying to express (a drawing of a bumblebee, a drawing of himself falling over branches).

    Some of my art invitations seem to work, but most of them result in ‘Mummy, I don’t want to do it!’ (

    So looking forward to improve my approach 🙂

  5. Yes! ‘Protecting and nurturing our children’s individual creativity’ is something I wholeheartedly believe in. I actually identified it as a core value for our family when my husband and I first decided to have children.

    My husband is a visual artist and photographer, and I am a writer and musician but we both are very technical too, and we love the relationship between the creative and technical sides of our lives. Each side can be complementary to the other and also a retreat.

    Our two year old son is showing a love for painting and drawing and like your example, while I have received advice that I should be guiding him on what something should look like I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I’m so glad you are exploring this topic.

  6. Another amazing post, Kate. Thank you for posting it the night before too. It gave me time to think about what I needed to do the next day and get a bit organised.
    One problem I have with my children is that when I leave art materials out for them they misuse it. Eg. Drawings on the wall, floor, furniture etc. paint on anything and everything. I feel I can’t give my children any freedom to play if those things are within reach. The only time they are able to use these things are when they are closely supervised and even then they push the limits. Any ideas that might help me?

    1. Thanks Kate. Jack’s quite a bit older so I can trust him with certain art materials. We have washable markers, pencils and crayons in the playroom which he uses often throughout the day. I think I could probably trust him with other materials but Sarah being younger still likes to explore.

      I think I would be putting the art materials outside and probably still supervising them until they are able to focus their attention better. Also what kinds of art do they enjoy? When Jack was younger (I think about Penny’s age) he really liked painting on a large scale. So I bought some plastic sheeting for the hardware store and tied it to the fence. It stretched a few metres and covered the fence from top to bottom. He could paint big and not worry about painting where he wasn’t allowed. The kids also have a dedicated art table which we take out onto the grass and they can paint in the middle of the yard and if paint gets on the table that’s fine. It’s actually covered in paint and drawings. Sometimes I stick a big roll of bubble wrap to it and let the kids just run paint all over it.

      It might be that Lucy and Penny are still very much in that sensory discovery stage of exploring art. And so I think you need to embrace this and try to create opportunities for them to express this creativity.

      1. I love the idea of large scale painting, Kate. This is definitely something my girls would enjoy. We have a table that I don’t mind them painting on. When Lucy starts painting she starts by painting on the paper as intended but inevitably starts painting her hands (which is fine) but then will start painting Penny (Hair included) which is not fine because Penny hates having her hair washed and she has grommets so we have to be really careful when washing it anyway. She will also paint the house bricks and floor tiles outside if left alone to paint. The actual paint bottles have to be kept right out of her reach too as nothing delights her more than squeezing paint out until its empty. Same goes for toothpaste, shampoo, hand soap, lip balm and sunscreen as it turns out (haha).
        I do need to offer more opportunities for the girls to paint and be creative but I find it oh so stressful especially when they are finished and covered in paint and both go walking through the house, bumping into walls. I can carry one but not two!!
        I really have to be sooo prepared that I find myself saying no when they ask to paint randomly and I am not organised enough to ensure it goes smoothly. I should say, though, that waterc
        olour paints are fantastic and we use them often!

  7. Still here, still reading and being inspired. Feel like I have finally caught up enough to ‘join in’. Have cleaned and culled our toy room including finding a solution to our dress up storage. Have been observing play more consciously, and thinking lots. Now art I can do:) but do need to make more of a time each day

  8. I absolutely love this. I am an artist so I am doing everything I can to make sure my kids have a lot of experience with process type art. Art and creating are such a fabulous part of life which can be easily stifled if not careful. I love your blog! You are such an inspiration. We have a lot of the same philosophies about education and I love that!

Comments are closed.